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Ex-Liverpool and Man City man Dietmar Hamman claims Reds should focus on top-four finish NOT on title

I still refer to Dietmar Hamann by the ‘Kaiser’ nickname he got at Liverpool, although in reality no foreign player entered Anfield’s dressing room faster.

He picked up on the Scouse lingo within weeks and was always up for a game of cards or a post-game drink. He also had more influence on the field for the younger English players than he probably realized.

While Gerard Houllier provided the right environment for the likes of Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher, Didi taught us in matches, particularly midfielders like Steven Gerrard and myself.

Danny Murphy (center) speaks with Didi Hamann (right) about playing for Liverpool and Manchester City

Danny Murphy (center) speaks with Didi Hamann (right) about playing for Liverpool and Manchester City

Danny Murphy (center) speaks with Didi Hamann (right) about playing for Liverpool and Manchester City

The two teams will face each other on Sunday afternoon in a clash of the titans Premier League encounter

He would indicate when and where he would receive the ball or anticipate danger and only afterwards do I understand how he developed our game.

Being a true Anglophile, Kaiser initially stayed in England after hanging his boots. He is currently based in his hometown Munich and works for Sky Germany.

While his contribution to Anfield will never be forgotten, he was also a Manchester City player when their fortunes suddenly changed in 2008, with new owners arriving from Abu Dhabi.

Liverpool’s home defeats to Burnley and Brighton coupled with City’s 13 wins in a row make this look like a last chance for Jurgen Klopp’s team, which will be 10 points behind City at a loss.

The Reds are in crisis after consecutive defeats in the league at Anfield against Burnley and Brighton

Manchester City meanwhile leads the Premier League and leads Liverpool with seven points

Given their injury crisis, Didi doesn’t think retaining the title will be at the forefront of Liverpool at the moment.

“The priority will not be to win the competition, but to finish in the top four,” he says. Manchester United and Leicester aren’t going anywhere, Chelsea have had a jump – Liverpool have their hands full.

‘Any team in the world would miss Virgil van Dijk. You rarely saw Liverpool see a counter when he played. He would clean up. Joe Gomez has had many injuries for a young player, now there is no Joel Matip either.

Using Jordan Henderson and Fabinho as a cover has had a major impact. They choked the opposition in midfield, other teams were so dominated and afraid of losing the ball that they would be forced to throw it forward.

The Reds were without Virgil van Dijk (right) and Joe Gomez (left) for most of this season

Now they are more confident, Liverpool have to work a lot harder for their results and that gets tiring over time. More than ever they depend on Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. ‘

Interestingly, he thinks performing for an empty Cup this afternoon doesn’t necessarily have to be a disadvantage.

“People in Liverpool are demanding,” he explains. The fans can be of great help, but in a spell like this their fear can be damaging. It could be harder to beat City if the fans were there. ‘

A silver lining for Klopp is the signing of 20-year-old Ozan Kabak on the deadline. Didi has been watching him closely in his capacity as a television analyst.

Hamann thinks new Liverpool signing Ozan Kabak could make a difference to the Reds this season

“He’s a physical player, loves to wrestle and the English league will suit him better than the Bundesliga,” he says. ‘He’s very capable, I like him. He may have a little rash, but he’s good enough to come out even though he’s young. ‘

While Klopp is in the throes of an injury crisis, City has kept six clean sheets. I had my doubts whether Pep would stay with the club that long because of his past. But he has it and the partnership between Ruben Dias and John Stones has transformed them, ”said Didi.

The defense has always been City’s Achilles heel. They signed a lot of center-backs, but couldn’t figure it out. It was a similar story at Liverpool until Van Dijk came. Dias has had a similar effect. ‘

Hamann believes that John Stones (left) and Ruben Dias have made the difference for City

Kevin De Bruyne will miss with an injury and Didi said: ‘I would have loved to play with him. When you ping a pass to a midfielder who can steer and turn the ball to make something happen, you get credit for your pass. ‘

Personally, I would have loved to have seen a midfield trio of Hamann, Stevie G and De Bruyne – they would have been virtually unbeatable.

This was the first time I spoke to Kaiser since we lost our beloved former manager, Houllier. As regular readers know, the Frenchman had a huge influence on my career and Didi’s perspective was also interesting given the career he had playing for Bayern Munich and in the 2002 World Cup final for Germany.

“It was probably a risk for Gerard to attract so many foreign players to Liverpool, but he made it work because of the way he informed us of the young talent that was already there; Carra, Michael, Stevie, little Thommo [David Thompson], yourself ‘, says Didi.

Ex-Reds star Hamann (left) was part of a foreign revolution at Anfield under Gerard Houllier

Gerard saw the person in front of the player. He knew the names of your wife, your children. When I signed, I was told there was a special young player at the club named Steven Gerrard, but there is no guarantee that a youngster will live up to his potential.

Gerard believed in Stevie and made him captain. Players need that support. I had the same at Bayern. I was 20 and didn’t break into the team. Franz Beckenbauer put his arm around my shoulder and said the club had confidence in me.

Gerard reminded me a lot of Sven Goran Eriksson at City. Sven made sure that the players greeted everyone nicely, showed respect, be it the manager or the tea lady. Houllier’s Liverpool really was like a family. ‘

Hamann (right) was signed by Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce and spent three years there

Hamann’s three-year stint at City is sometimes forgotten alongside his other accomplishments, but his time there turned out to be a historic one.

Signed by Stuart Pearce, he spent an eventful season with Sven that ended in an 8-1 defeat at Middlesbrough when the players knew their manager was being forced out.

A few weeks into the following season, there was even more drama when wealthy new owners from Abu Dhabi came in on the day of the transfer deadline in August and broke the British transfer record at Robinho within hours.

Hamann (right) played under Sven-Goran Eriksson and during the early days of the City takeover

“I loved working for Sven,” Didi recalls of his time in Manchester. City had super players like Elano, he always found room to get a pass, and great up and coming players like Micah Richards, Stephen Ireland, Joey Barton and Richard Dunne.

We were at the top of the league for a while, beating Manchester United, then Sven told us in February that the owner let him go at the end of the season. We became disillusioned. We had no intention of losing, but that extra two or three percent fight got out of us because we didn’t want to lose Sven.

‘There was talk of new owners, but we didn’t know what it meant. Signing Robinho was a statement. Even then you wondered if the Sheikh might stay for three years and lose interest. What the club has done since then is remarkable. ‘

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